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Misinformation about ADHD in children’s books

06 November 2017
Children's books about ADHD

The information about ADHD in children’s books is inaccurate and one-sided. This is the conclusion of research by students at the University of Groningen. The research was conducted by Linda Foget and Caroline van Haeringen under the supervision of Dr Laura Batstra from the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences. They studied what Dutch educational children’s books have to say about ADHD.

Nearly all of the children’s books studied were one-sided, only providing the biomedical view of ADHD. This sees ADHD as a chronic brain disorder that must be treated with medication. However, scientific research has shown that there is no difference between the brains of children with and the brains of children without hyperactivity and concentration problems. The books do not look at other possible causes of ADHD, such as poverty, parental stress and the pressure to achieve.

‘The children’s books invariably portray the child and its brain as the cause of the child’s problems’, warns Dr Laura Batstra. ‘Children with an ADHD diagnosis are therefore mistakenly told that they have a chronic brain disorder that they need to take pills for.’ In her book ADHD: Macht en Misverstanden, which is published this week, she chronicles widespread and persistent misunderstandings about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The researchers are concerned about the effect on children of growing up with the erroneous belief that they have a brain disorder. They call for honest information, not just for parents and teachers, but for children themselves too. The study of information about ADHD in children’s books will be published soon in academic journal ‘Orthopedagogiek: Onderzoek en Praktijk’.

Last modified:05 April 2019 11.17 a.m.
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